WILLIAMSBURG — Body By D Gym & Fitness Center, a locally-owned gym based in Yorktown, is in the business of inspiring others.
The positive force behind the brand is D’Shawn Wright; a competitive bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and local community activist.
D’Shawn found his path into the world of fitness in high school after being inspired by his oldest brother and his father.
“My oldest brother was a body-building champion,” said D’Shawn. “They got me into it, kind of by following their footsteps, but the funny part is I used to fight it. I didn’t want to do weightlifting. I said, ‘I’ll play basketball,’ but then one day, my dad said, ‘Do you want to come to the gym?’ and, for whatever reason, I went, and then I was hooked. The rest is history.”
D’Shawn was so inspired during those early years of weightlifting that he wrote down a very important goal that he set out to achieve: to own a gym.
“I wanted to own a gym before I turned 30 [years old],” said D’Shawn. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t have the capital or the resources to do it, but I’m a person that believes in writing down your goals. If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”
D’Shawn used to go to a gym in Newport News where he helped train kids for baseball. One day, the gym wanted to move from where it was to a new location in Yorktown. This would later become the home of Body by D.
When it first opened, the gym was called On Deck Training Complex; a facility that focused on training for baseball. The building had a gym as well as its own batting cages.
“What happened is one day they wanted to go different ways,” said D’Shawn. “The landlord of the building asked me if I wanted to have a gym in here. Well, my goal was to have a gym before I turned 30. [At] 28 years old, the opportunity came about, and she was like ‘You want to do it?’ and then I just ran with it.”
Body By D Gym & Fitness Center
Upon entering the gym, you might find yourself greeted by a friendly bulldog that roams the building. This adopted “gym dog” typically follows D’Shawn around as he goes about his busy day, which includes helping others train in his gym.
The gym itself is packed with all kinds of weights and weight machines for visitors to use. Additionally, there’s boxing equipment, treadmills, and cycling machines.
“Our whole thing is we want to create an environment,” said D’Shawn. “A one-stop-shop. Whatever is the thing that you’re looking for, we want to be that place for you.”
Sharing the same building is another sports-related facility called Premier Sports Center. The business offers a place to play futsal (indoor soccer) with both indoor and outdoor soccer fields.
D’Shawn has a commitment to helping others achieve their goals. However, his mentorship is not just a focus on physical goals; D’Shawn said that there is a philosophy that goes hand in hand with the physical training.
“You have to be direct and concise with what you want. It’s funny… People will be more detailed about a vacation than they would about their own lives,” said D’Shawn. “You ask somebody what they want on vacation, they’ll tell you the whole itinerary. Where they’re going, how they’re getting there, who’s taking care of the kids, who’s taking care of the animals, what they’re wearing, but if you ask somebody what’s your goals for life, a lot of the time they’ll be like, ‘Whatever happens.'”
“This is bigger than just fitness,” D’Shawn added. “You could change your body but if you have the same mindset in how you work, it defeats the purpose. You have to be able to change your mind. So we believe in that middle part. You change the middle part and the physical part will come automatically. It never fails, but what are the things mentally that you can learn from this process of changing physically?”
The gym recently celebrated its thirteenth anniversary on April 1, 2022. D’Shawn said that he couldn’t have accomplished this on his own.
“God has been really good with the blessings that we have. It’s not just me, I work with great people around me who believe in what we do. I’ve just been blessed,” D’Shawn said. “I have great people around me, and we do it together.”
The local gym has grown and expanded over the years. In 2017, Body By D opened up another location in Hayes (22 George Washington Memorial Hwy.) which offers availability 24 hours a day. D’Shawn also owns two barbershops called The Wright Cuts Family Barber Shop and Salon, with one located at 1453 George Washington Memorial Hwy. (Rte. 17) in Gloucester and the other in Newport News at 11745 Jefferson Ave. Ste. 5A.
Additionally, D’Shawn and his fiancée, Jenny Joyner, started a not for profit organization called Honey Jam Productions. The focus is on diversity and equality issues as well as issues including anti-bullying. Last year, Honey Jam Productions helped raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), provided community outreach programs that brings law enforcement and the community together, offered fitness boot camps for charity, and a number of other community events.
“I wanted us to be a staple in the community. I believe it all goes hand in hand. If you have a business here, as a leader you want the community to be better,” said D’Shawn. “It’s not just about the money. It’s about, ‘What things are you doing to make the community better?’ So we totally believe in that.”
D’Shawn continues to inspire those around him through his work in the community and through his businesses. Future aspirations include new gym locations and continuing to help produce great people and great athletes.
“At the end of the day I hope this place ends up as a historical place,” said D’Shawn. “Because we’ve done a lot. We’ve also had governors come through here, Lt. Governors have been through here, and pro-athletes have been through here. People just hear about us and they want to come to check us out and so we’ve been blessed.”
For more information about Body by D, please visit its website.